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The board will soon determine whether Donald Trump can return to the platform

Getty Images • April 26, 2021 5:30 pm

A member of Facebook’s Oversight Board said the company’s misinformation policies need overhauling in an exclusive interview with the Washington Free Beacon.

“I regard the category of misinformation as being one where we need to be extremely cautious,” Michael McConnell told the Free Beacon. “There are legitimate differences of opinion on lots of matters, and we need to make sure we don’t squelch legitimate disagreement of historical, scientific, or political nature in the name of misinformation.”

The Oversight Board faces increased scrutiny as it prepares to decide whether former president Donald Trump should be allowed back on Facebook. Facebook banned Trump from the platform on Jan. 7, following the Capitol riots. At the time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the risks of allowing the president to continue using the platform were “simply too great.”

McConnell would not comment on upcoming cases. The Oversight Board is expected to rule on Facebook’s decision in the next two weeks.

A former U.S. circuit judge who now teaches constitutional law at Stanford Law School, McConnell is one of 20 Oversight Board members who determine whether content Facebook bans must stay up. The board has ruled on a handful of cases since it was established last year and has tended to criticize Facebook’s restrictive misinformation policies.

McConnell said the rules are “vague and hard to understand” for users. He also emphasized the Oversight Board’s focus on bringing consistency to Facebook’s application of standards, which thus far have been “ad hoc and inconsistent.” But McConnell stressed that solving the problem would be difficult since “it’s extremely difficult to write a rule that solves the misinformation problem.”

McConnell tried to manage expectations for the board, saying, “I’m optimistic about us being able to do things a little bit better.” And he said that censorship by the social media giant was “not necessarily a bad thing” when in support of “clearly articulated values.”

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